Patient Expert

Acute can mean different things depending on how it's used:

  1. characterized by sharpness or severity (acute pain)
  2. having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course (an acute disease)
  3. providing or concerned with short-term medical care especially for serious acute disease or trauma (acute care, acute medication)

Most discussions of Migraine and headache involving acute refer to acute medications, medications taken for an individual headache or Migraine as opposed to preventive medications or IV infusions used to treat intractable Migraine or headache. Abortive medications are examples of acute medications.

You can read more about acute medications in:

For more terms, see our Migraine and Headache Glossary.

Medical review by John Claude Krusz, PhD, MD.